It has been more than two weeks since the senseless killing of Kim Pham happened outside the Crosby in downtown Santa Ana. Readers as far as Los Angeles and even the U.K. have picked up on the story, reeling in shock while OC residents collectively shake their heads at Santa Ana, the people and city as a whole, in indignation.
In tribute to Pham, supporters have adorned the utility box where Pham was brutally beaten with candles, flowers and Pham's photographs, but in due time, that box will undergo another major visual change.
A couple of months ago, I wrote about Santa Ana City Council's effort to bring more art to the community by granting artists the chance to design and paint over the utility boxes in the city with their own art. Visual artist Federico Medina was assigned the utility box that has become Pham's memorial, and he plans to adapt his artistic vision to honor her.
"My original concept for the box was to show the diversity in the city to help break the stereotype of Santa Ana and show the progress of new life and energy that had been continuing," Medina told the Weekly. "It's more important than before to show that we are a city of growing diversity and accepting cultures in the form of showing a collage of faces of different people all connecting together and lifting Santa Ana as a whole.
"I plan to collage all the faces of random people as my original concept and to show the face of Kim Pham in a section without any collage," he continues. "So people might remember what happened or wonder why her face is different from the rest. Even though she is not a resident, she is now a part of Santa Ana's history. It's a part of history that I wish had never happened, but it did, and people should see her face clear to remember what happened."
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Medina, who was born and raised in Santa Ana, works in various mediums and has exhibited multiple times within the art community. He plans to reach out to Pham's family before moving forward with his design. Feeling frustrated with the public vitriol aimed at the city, Medina aims to continue shaping the image of Santa Ana for the better.
"Seeing the box that has evolved into the memorial has definitely made the concept of 'WE ARE SANTA ANA' mean more than I originally thought," he says.